After going to hear a recital of baroque music, I was reminded of the way that composers over the centuries made such harmonically beautiful music despite drawing on what, in jazz terms, could appear to be a rather limited palette of quite simple chords. Of course, these long-established harmonic principles also formed the vocabulary for the Great American Songbook classics that we all love to improvise on. In my view, this stuff really isn’t as complex as it’s sometimes made out to be. It would seem logical that the same devices used to create these tunes, decades ago, could be used to inform our attempts to solo over them. It’s never really made sense to me when we try to explain Cole Porter songs in terms of a analytical language that he almost certainly wouldn’t have recognized.

Over the last fifty years or so, we have seen the emergence of “jazz theory” as a discipline in its own right. I don’t intend to add to the debates that already exist about the merits of various approaches – all these things can have great merit when used in the right context. Nevertheless, the aim of this session is to try and explain the very simple infrastructure at work in jazz standards, and to show that there are times when a very literal ‘match the scale to the chord symbol’ approach may well confuse matters by leading us into poor note choices. If you understand major and minor keys, you know everything you need to get started, and shouldn’t go far wrong. Maybe we can put away those huge textbooks filled with terrifying mathematical concepts that make our brains ache – at least for a while? I like wrestling with all that stuff sometimes too, but there must be easier ways to get started…

Running time 60 minutes

33 pages of written material including transcriptions and examples in standard notation and TAB

Course Curriculum

Making the Changes - Jamie Taylor's approach - Part 2
Making the Changes – Jamie Taylor’s approach – Part 2 01:00:00

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